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Review: Ecko Rising by Danie Ware

Thanks to Danie, and Sophie at Titan Books, I received a copy of Ecko Rising, and as debuts go… Well, here are my thoughts.

Ecko Rising is a kickass debut, which doesn’t read like a debut at all. There’s a level of self-assurance in this book that most authors or storytellers achieve well into their careers, that kind of favourite=chair comfort with their writing that is practically invisible but so incredibly important to the reader’s experience. Most of the debuts I’ve read are hesitant and conforming, like a child stepping onto the playground of a new school, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, don’t understand me wrong – it’s just that much more of an eye-opener when an author’s first published novel disregards the expectations that cling to the word and idea, ‘Debut’, and that’s exactly what I feel that Danie Ware did.

First off, and most importantly, the characters were engaging – Danie actually takes a risk by opening the book with someone who isn’t the main protagonist of the tale, giving us a glimpse of a guy who is hard, uncompromising and almost totally against authority. Ecko himself was great – obviously a SFF fan 🙂 Ecko’s cynicism, sarcasm and wit made him a character that I could identify with and cheer for – he was like one of those almost-lost case examples that has so much talent and promise that you can’t help feeling for the guy. There are plenty of other characters that you’ll meet in this novel – Triqueta (one of my favourites), Rhan, Roderick (a bit of a whiner in the beginning but swiftly grew on me), Maugrim (a mystery that I really hope will be explained!), and a host of others spread across the two worlds that the novel takes place in.

This is another aspect of the novel that -contrary to what I was expecting- totally worked; the future-London in Ecko Rising is a place that I really hope will be explored more in the next novel – there’s so much potential there! And the world in which Ecko finds himself was really, really cool – sure, there were only glimpses of places, but the cultures (such as the Banned) and the world’s history (tied into grass, if you can believe that, and it works!), the interesting and enigmatic mystery of The Wanderer, the ‘magic’ – all combined to show me a world that I wouldn’t at all mind being submersed in, reading wise. Even though there were glimpses of some places those glimpses still made me curious.

One of the things that Danie did incredibly well was creating two separate worlds that worked extremely well as representations of the genres they were exploring – the London we get a glimpse of is dystopian, dreary, controlled and scary (in what’s implied about the place), while the world Ecko finds himself thrust into had a sense of freedom and openess to it, beauty everywhere, but with glaring differences that heightened my descent, as it it were. This world is definitely one that I’ll remember!

Going back to Danie’s non-conforming, she goes all out is Ecko Rising – the violence is hectic in places, beautiful in others; the constant comparisons between Ecko’s world and the one he finds himself in serve to show what’s awesome and incredible about both worlds, as well as the darker aspsects, the underbelly, if you will. But it’s also incredibly funny to witness Ecko’s reactions and to hear his thoughts – he’s utterly lost, out of his depth, and because of what he’s been through this makes him a loose cannon, someone that can’t be controlled or predicted. He’s the kind of character that kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering and guessing – and hoping that Ecko Rising wasn’t another re-tread of the Thomas Covenant tales.

Which is isn’t, at all. I haven’t even finished the first Covenant novel (I just can’t – it’s too dreary, too too, if you get what I mean) and I’m so glad that Ecko Rising wasn’t a Covenant all over again. 🙂

All in all, Ecko Rising is an incredible, confident debut, with an ending that’ll surprise everyone – it’s daring and brilliant, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. 🙂

9 / 10

To order your copies, click here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon US; the book will be available in the UK on the 28th, but if you want your copies today then you better head over to Forbidden Planet tonight – you can meet Danie, get your copy of Ecko Rising, and get it signed! 🙂 The book will be released in the US on the 11th of June, so pre-order your copies now. 🙂 And don’t forget to check out Danie’s website, and Ecko Rising’s booktrailer. 🙂

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Review: Star Wars – Crosscurrent by Paul S Kemp

This is the first time I got to review a new Star Wars novel BEFORE its publication, and not only was I lucky in that regard, but Paul’s Star Wars debut turned out to be one of the strongest Expanded Universe debuts I’ve read to date.

I’m not going to tell you what the plot of the novel revolves around – Star Wars fans the world over have known since the 17th of July 2009 when the Official Site posted its First Look. I’ll dive right into what made Crosscurrent such a strong debut.

Now, let me state from the outset that I’ve yet to read any of Paul’s other work (though I do have the first Erevis Cale book lined up to review), so I had no idea what to expect concerning his writing style. Would it suit Star Wars?

I’m happy to report that it does. 🙂

Paul gives us an intimate focus, character- and action-wise, and his action scenes are as cinematical as would be expected from any Star Wars EU novel.

Paul gives us starfighter dogfights that, while not the equal of what Mike Stackpole or Aaron Allston can do, are still tense and well-suited to the situation. He even manages a great nod at a scene from Return of the Jedi. 🙂

Paul’s lightsaber duels are not as descriptive as I would have liked, but what I did like was the fact that the duels were intense and brutal, something that suited both time-periods that Paul uses in Crosscurrent as well as the characters.

Paul’s handling of the characters in Crosscurrent was excellent! Our protagonist, Jaden Korr, comes across as fully-fleshed, as if we’ve met him countless times in the EU instead of just glimpsing him in Centerpoint Station. (I haven’t mentioned Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy -Jaden’s first appearance in Star Wars- because I haven’t played the game) I trusted Jaden to take me through Crosscurrent, something that I believe any protagonist needs to create in a reader; Jaden was likable and I could relate to his situation (not being a Jedi or having a Force-vision, of course, but going through periods of being unsure of myself and having a need to strip away the clutter) and thoughts.

Paul also has a great supporting cast;

Khedryn, a human male who manages to emulate Han Solo and be a better character (considering the way Han has being relegated to comic-relief post-New Jedi Order), and Khedryn plays an awesome game of sabbac, too!

Marr, Khedryn’s co-pilot and friend, a Cerean (think Ki-Adi Mundi) who is at his most calm when taking on a navicomputer to calculate a hyperspace jump;

Kell, a creepy Anzat who is searching for the Revelation that will give his existence meaning,

Relin, a Jedi trying to accomplish the impossible while fighting incredible odds,

and Saes, a Sith who finds himself is either the best or worst possible situation.

The dynamic between Jaden, Khedryn and Marr was great; Not only did Paul manage, by using Khedryn and Marr, to give Jaden a much-needed perspective that didn’t involve the Jedi, but he also used them as a vehicle to explore the kind of questions that we all face – being afraid and dealing with it, seeing the comedy in against-the-odds situations, gathering the courage to do what needs to be done… This interplay between the characters really gave the novel that relatable feel, something that’s been missing from the Star Wars EU for a while now.

Relin I’m not going to say anything about, nor Saes; but go ahead and read the excerpts that have been posted (the first glimpse, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2) to get a taste (not telling you of who, either). 🙂

Kell is, well, utterly creepy. Here’s a character that has a need, a hunger that must be fulfilled, and if you know something about Anzati, you can imagine where you’ll travel with Kell. Genuinely creepy!

What made this such an excellent Star Wars debut? Well, part from the awesome characters –

Handling two different eras and not getting me confused, keeping the action and suspense constant with short, to-the-point chapters that rocket along, and crafting a story that can stand proudly and strongly on its own without even a glimpse of Canon characters. This is a Star Wars novel that fans of the EU will love, but it’s also a novel that will get someone who has never read a Star Wars novel before hooked; it has all the hallmarks of Episodes 1 through 6 – the beautiful and strange scenery of distant planets, the wisdom and valor of the Jedi, exciting space battles and lightsaber duels, and the kind of philosophical questions that make Star Wars great. 🙂 Crosscurrent ranks right up there with the debuts of Troy Denning, Matthew Stover and Karen Traviss for me – it’s enjoyable, exciting, leads to questions and more mysteries, and that spark that sets it above the current EU choice-list.

I’m very excited to see where Paul will take Jaden, Khedryn and Marr, not least because of the links to other Star Wars EU projects going at the moment (and there are plenty of those, and they all work beautifully!). 🙂

9 / 10

If you’d like more info about Paul and his work, click here for his official website and here for his LiveJournal blog. Need some more info about Jaden? Click here for his listing on Wookieepedia.

To pre-order Crosscurrent, click here for US, here for UK, and for those in South Africa (the book will be out in March), here.

Be EPIC!

P.S. Stay tuned for an interview with Paul and John Jackson Miller, coming up soon!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Reviews

 

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